Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Learning the Alphabet of Controlling Gene Expression

Published: Monday, January 21, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, January 21, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Scientists at Karolinska Institutet have made a large step towards the understanding of how human genes are regulated.

In a new study, published in the journal Cell, they identified the DNA sequences that bind to over four hundred proteins that control expression of genes. This knowledge is required to understand how differences in genomes of individuals affect their risk to develop disease.

After the human genome was sequenced in 2000, it was hoped that the knowledge of the entire sequence of human DNA could rapidly be translated to medical benefits such as novel drugs, and predictive tools that would identify individuals at risk of disease. This, however, turned out to be harder than anticipated, one of the reasons being that only 1 percent of the genome that code for proteins was in fact possible to read. The remaining part, much of which describes how these proteins should be expressed in different cells and tissues, could not be understood. This, in turn, because the scientists did not know which DNA sequences are functional, and bind to the specific proteins called transcription factors that regulate gene expression.

"The genome is like a book written in a foreign language, we know the letters but cannot understand why a human genome makes a human or the mouse genome a mouse", says Professor Jussi Taipale, who led the study at the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition. "Why some individuals have higher risk to develop common diseases such as heart disease or cancer has been even less understood."

The human genome encodes approximately 1000 transcription factors, and they bind specifically to short sequences of DNA, and control the production of other proteins. In the work published in Cell, the scientists at Karolinska Institutet describe DNA sequences that bind to over 400 such proteins, representing approximately half of all human transcription factors. Data was generated with a new method that uses a modern DNA sequencer that produces hundreds of millions of sequences, giving the results unprecedented accuracy and reliability.

In addition, binding specificities of human transcription factors were compared to those of the mouse. Surprisingly, no differences were found. According to the scientists, these results suggest that the basic machinery of gene expression is similar in humans and mice, and that the differences in size and shape are caused not by differences in transcription factor proteins, but by presence or absence of the specific sequences that bind to them.

"Taken together, the work represents a large step towards deciphering the code that controls gene expression, and provides an invaluable resource to scientists all over the world to further understand the function of the whole human genome", says Professor Taipale.  The resulting increase in our ability to read the genome will also improve our ability to translate the rapidly accumulating genomic information to medical benefits.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Complex Grammar of the Genomic Language
A new study from Karolinska Institutet shows that the ‘grammar’ of the human genetic code is more complex than that of even the most intricately constructed spoken languages in the world.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
New Mechanism Discovered Behind Infant Epilepsy
Scientists at Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital have discovered a new explanation for severe early infant epilepsy.
Monday, September 07, 2015
Stem Cells from Nerves Forming Teeth
Findings published in the scientific journal Nature.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Different Cell Mechanisms Behind Regenerated Limbs
Scientists at Karolinska Institutet have discovered that two separate species of salamander differ in the way their muscles grow back in lost body parts.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
New European Vaccine Initiative
Leading organisations have joined forces to rapidly assess and communicate the benefits and risks of vaccines.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Synthetic mRNA can Induce Self-Repair and Regeneration of the Infarcted Heart
A team of scientists has instructing injured hearts in mice to heal by expressing a factor that triggers cardiovascular regeneration driven by native heart stem cells.
Monday, September 16, 2013
Technological Breakthrough Paves the Way for Better Drugs
Researchers have developed the first method for directly measuring the extent to which drugs reach their targets in the cell.
Monday, July 08, 2013
Possible Goal for New Tuberculosis-Vaccine Identified
A new study shows for the first time the essential role of the molecule SOCS3 in the control of Tuberculosis.
Monday, July 08, 2013
Trackable Drug-Filled Nanoparticles - a Potential Weapon against Cancer
Tiny particles filled with a drug could be a new tool for treating cancer in the future.
Monday, March 04, 2013
New Hope for Setback-dogged Cancer Treatment
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet announce breakthrough in the study of how IGF-1 receptor-binding antibodies can help those with cancer.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has decided to award the Nobel Prize jointly to John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Possible New Therapy for the Treatment of a Common Blood Cancer
Research from Karolinska Institutet shows that sorafenib, a drug used for advanced cancer of the kidneys and liver, could also be effective against multiple myeloma.
Friday, September 07, 2012
New Findings on the Formation of Body Pigment
The skin's pigment cells can be formed from completely different cells than has hitherto been thought, a new study from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet shows. The results, which are published in the journal Cell, also mean the discovery of a new kind of stem cell.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Cell-IQ® Cell Imaging System Aids Fertility Research at Karolinska
Cell-IQ® platform helps investigate mechanisms of infertility and oocyte maturation, and for characterization of human embryonic stem cell lines.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Identical Twins Not as Identical as Believed
The finding published by American, Swedish, and Dutch scientists may be of great significance for research on hereditary diseases and for the development of new diagnostic methods.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Scientific News
High Throughput Mass Spectrometry-Based Screening Assay Trends
Dr John Comley provides an insight into HT MS-based screening with a focus on future user requirements and preferences.
Promising Drug Combination for Advanced Prostate Cancer
A new drug combination may be effective in treating men with metastatic prostate cancer. Preliminary results of this new approach are encouraging and have led to an ongoing international study being conducted in 196 hospitals worldwide.
A Cellular Symphony Responsible for Autoimmune Disease
Broad Institute researchers have used a novel approach to increase our understanding of the immune system as a whole.
When it Comes to Breast Cancer, Common Pigeon is No Bird Brain
If pigeons went to medical school and specialized in pathology or radiology, they’d be pretty good at distinguishing digitized microscope slides and mammograms of normal vs. cancerous breast tissue, a new study has found.
Editing of LIMS Data Made Faster and More Efficient in Matrix Gemini
The latest version of the Matrix Gemini LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) from Autoscribe Informatics now provides faster and more efficient editing of LIMS data by eliminating the need for a second editing screen.
University of Edinburgh, Selcia Achieve Key Milestones in Drug Development Program
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, working with Selcia, have successfully passed the 20-month milestone targets of a 30-month Wellcome Trust SDDi £2.5 million project to design novel treatments for sleeping sickness.
Red Clover Genome to Help Restore Sustainable Farming
The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) in collaboration with IBERS, has sequenced and assembled the DNA of red clover to help breeders improve the beneficial traits of this important forage crop.
How a Genetic Locus Protects Adult Blood-Forming Stem Cells
Mammalian imprinted Gtl2 protects adult hematopoietic stem cells by restricting metabolic activity in the cells' mitochondria.
Genetic Basis of Fatal Flu Side Effect Discovered
A group of people with fatal H1N1 flu died after their viral infections triggered a deadly hyperinflammatory disorder in susceptible individuals with gene mutations linked to the overactive immune response, according to a recent study.
New Tech Vastly Improves CRISPR/Cas9 Accuracy
A new CRISPR/Cas9 technology developed by scientists at UMass Medical School is precise enough to surgically edit DNA at nearly any genomic location, while avoiding potentially harmful off-target changes typically seen in standard CRISPR gene editing techniques.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos